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Vayakhel – A thought for the week by Michael Lewis

This Shabbat is also Shabbat Shekalim. In leap years when there are two months of Adar, Shabbat Shekalim is on the Shabbat before the 1st of Adar II.

The Sedra starts with the reiteration of the importance of Shabbat but then, rather than elaborating on this, as in Parsha Ki Tissa, it goes into fund raising. Three types of donor, either of shekels or of involvement are described.

“Everyone whose heart is inclined (“nediv libo”)
“everyone who is skilled (“hakham lev”) and –
kol ish asher nesa’o libo,” literally “everyone whose heart lifts him”

Parashat Vaya-kel also states that these donors were endowed with the ability

to teach which was given to their heart.

Ibn Ezra commented

there are many wise individuals who find it challenging to impart their knowledge effectively to others.

The Mishkan, which was to be a temporary portable structure, would have to last for a very long time before a permanent structure, the Temple, would be built.

The Haftorah describes the time of Jehoash, over 100 years after Solomon built the Temple. The building was falling into disrepair, and he enquired

Why are you not repairing the damage of the house? Now, take no money from your acquaintances, but give it for the damage of the house.

The key word is in the name of the Sedra “vayakhel,” “Moses gathered.”

The word Kehillah means community. A kehillah or kahal is a group of people assembled for a given purpose. What we build is not for our own glory or gratification but for the whole community. It has to encompass all those who contribute or have contributed; either with money, with skills, with religious purpose or by passing on their knowledge. In that way we can invite the “Shekinah”, God’s presence to descend much as it did in the original Mishkan.

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